back to top
World

Turkey Is Trying To Get Twitter To Block A Journalist For "Instigating Terrorism"

Mahir Zeynalov was already deported from Turkey in 2014 for reporting critically on the Turkish government.

Posted on

Zeynalov, who is currently based in the US, is known for his reporting for Today's Zaman and other outlets, which is often very critical of Turkish President Erdogan and his government.

Advertisement

Zeynalov claimed that his account would soon be blocked from being viewed in Turkey and that another of his accounts, which he tweeted from in Turkish, had previously been removed.

Twitter: @mahirzeynalov

Zeynalov, who was deported from Turkey in 2014 for his reporting, told BuzzFeed News via email that he is "not sure when Twitter will block [his] account, but it could be any minute from now."

The response to Zeynalov's tweets was immediate and furious, with many accounts tagging Twitter's official accounts to accuse the company of censorship.

.@Twitter should not suspend @MahirZeynalov's account https://t.co/pVAVmhdqVK

No one’s been better at documenting Turkey's jailing of journalists than @MahirZeynalov. Shame on Twitter, if true. https://t.co/N5enpaNWqr

#Twitter bans Turkish journalist's account for "instigating terrorism." Great job Twitter #not - We stand with .@MahirZeynalov

Since the attempted coup in July, Erdogan's government has been stifling criticism, issuing arrest warrants for at least 89 journalists in the immediate aftermath of the aborted takeover.

Twitter is complicit in Turkey's post-coup censorship, @MahirZeynalov's will be at least 13th verified journalist… https://t.co/KUj7AN2jzM

Even before the coup attempt, the Turkish government requested that the social media giant block more people than any other in in the world, according to a report from February.

.@twitter Please explain. Do you think journalism is terrorism? #JournalismIsNotACrime https://t.co/m83VRl0jzP

The company has also instituted a policy over the years of blocking certain accounts from being viewed within certain countries, rather than deleting the accounts entirely.

Zeynalov's Twitter handle was among several other websites listed in a request from the Turkish Prime Ministry Security Works Directorate General to the Turkish courts in late July.

lumendatabase.org

The sites, the government argued, must be blocked from being viewed in Turkey for "promoting terrorism, encouraging violence and crime, threatening public order and national security." The government also requested that the courts "delete the content or ban access to it." The court approved the government's request on Aug. 2.

Twitter then received the court order on Sept. 23. "We have received the court order [attached] regarding your Twitter account," a copy of the email sent to Zeynalov on Sept. 25, seen by BuzzFeed News, reads.

"Twitter has not taken any action on the reported account at this time," the email continues. "One of our core values is to defend and respect the user's voice. Accordingly, we may consider filing petition of objection if we find that there is an appropriate legal basis to do so. If you intend to file an objection to this order in the Turkish courts, please reply immediately to let us know."

Twitter declined to comment on the record through a spokesperson.

Zeynalov, however, said that the court will likely uphold the verdict.

Twitter says it *may* appeal the decision to restrict access to my account. It is highly likely that a Turkish court will uphold the verdict

"I understand that Twitter thinks it might be entirely blocked in Turkey if it does not comply with Ankara's demands," Zeynalov told BuzzFeed News. "But I doubt Turkey could shut down Twitter for a long time and Turkey might not be that brazen if Twitter stands firm." His account remains up as of the time this article was published.

Hayes Brown is a world news editor and reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.

Contact Hayes Brown at hayes.brown@buzzfeed.com.

Got a confidential tip? Submit it here.

Promoted